It’s throwback Thursday and this week we take a look at former Arizona Coyotes center Craig Janney. The former 1986 first round pick of the Boston Bruins played 98 games for the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes from 1995 to 1998 . The small sample size was large in part to injuries that eventually ended his career.
Upon entering the league, Janney was fortunate to play and learn from Cam Neely. Known around the league as having the softest hands in the NHL, Janney was a sensational playmaking center, who averaged over a point per game (283 points in 262 games) during his time as a Bruin.
Janney was considered a poor man’s Pierre Turgeon.
During the 1991-92 season the Boston Bruins traded Janney with Stephane Quintal to the St. Louis Blues for Adam Oates, a move that proved his success in Boston was not because of playing with Neely. Janney (now playing with Brett Hull) scored 233 points in 183 games for St. Louis.
Janney made a pit stop in San Jose before ending up in Winnipeg in 1995, and was a part of the original Phoenix Coyotes roster.
Every once in awhile you will spot a Janney jersey here and there at Coyotes home games. If not for the large supply of original Janney Kachina sweaters readily available on eBay, Janney’s name might be forgotten to most ‘Yotes fans as his tenure with the early franchise was injury marred.
His time with the team was still productive.
Not having the pressure of being a top line center, Janney played on the second line while Jeremey Roenick stole the spotlight. Janney averaged nearly a point per game with Phoenix (126 points in 156 games). Not bad numbers at all. In today’s NHL Janney would get paid.
Janney retired after the 1998 season, while playing for the New York Islanders.
So what is he up to these days?
Janney and his family currently reside in Scottsdale, Arizona. He flies to the Boston area each week to act as color commentator on Friday night Hockey East telecasts.
It is not surprising that he stuck around in Arizona considering a large number of retired NHL players move to the Valley after their playing days are over. There were a large number of players in the early days of the franchise who were at the end of their careers when they played for the Coyotes. (Think Janney, Burke, Tocchet, Gartner, Sullivan, Hull, etc.)
Many never left because of the weather and golf. If you join a lunch-time drop in game at the Ice Den Scottsdale, it is not all that strange to see some of these guys getting their hockey fix. Some of the beer leagues even have former NHLers.
Janney will go down as one of the best players in the EA Sports NHL 94 game, and one of the slickest playmakers of the early 90’s.